The Elephant Victory

The Elephant Victory
273 B.C.

Return to the description of the battle.

For this battle the published DBA 1.1 Seleucid and Galatian army lists should be amended.   Note - for webpages with a black background such as this, you might need to adjust your printer's background setting, if you wish to print this page out in Netscape.

Antiochios I
2 x 3 Kn
The Seleucids, having control of Persia, usually possessed a heavy mounted arm.  One knight must be designated as the General's element.
1 x 2 LH
The typical Hellenistic "Tarantine" style of light horse.  Shields and javelins.
2 x 4 Pk
The phalanx.  According to the source for this battle, Antiochios had a smaller number of pikemen than most Successor armies.  Although Bar-Kochva argues that the translation of the term "peltast" may indicate pike armed troops, and not lightly armed peltasts.  Bar-Kochva aside, this may have been a deliberate move on Antiochios' part.  As Ptolemy Ceraunos discovered, pikemen didn't seem to fare too well against the wild Galatians.
3 x 2 Ps
Cretans and other mixed Asiatic archers and slingers.
3 x 3/4 Aux
Like the psiloi, these could be a variety of troop types.  Peltasts, theurophoroi, perhaps some Cappadocian hillmen.
1 x El
Antiochios' great and secret weapon.  


2 x LCh
Although the Greeks and Macedonians had long since abandoned the chariot as a weapon of war, the Galatians still employed chariots in their armies at this time.  An element of chariots may be chosen as the Galatian general's stand
2 x 3 Cv
The Galatian mounted arm wasn't entirely chariots of course; they also possess a respectable number of cavalry.  A stand of cavalry may be chosen as the Galatian general's element rather than a chariot.
1 x SCh
An all-or-nothing weapon.  Always great fun to throw at your opponent's battleline.
10 x 4Wb
The core of the army.  A mass of battle mad Celts.


Since most of our information comes from one source, and not a particularly useful source at that, no description of the battlefield and not much description of the deployment of the armies exist.  So use the usual DBA rules for determining terrain setup and army deployment, with two particular exceptions:

  1. The Seleucid player does not place his elephant on the board.

  2. The Galatians must place all their chariots directly behind their warbands.


Special Scenario Rules

  • Theodotos of Rhodes, military advisor to Antiochios, suggested that the Seleucid elephants be hidden from Celtic eyes.  So how does one go about hiding a huge elephant?  Sadly, our source is silent on that technical point.  Still, the fact remains that the elephants were indeed hidden, and surprised the Galatians for devastating effect.

    So, at any time during the game, the Seleucid player in his movement bound may use two pips to place the elephant stand anywhere on the game board, subject to the following limitations.  The elephant must be placed no closer than 100p from the closest Galatian element, and no further than 600p from any Seleucid element.  The elephant may not move the bound it is placed on the table.

  • According to Lucian, the Galatian chariots were able to pass through the assembled warband ranks.  This maneuver is, of course, completely impossible in DBA.  Therefore allow the chariots to interpenetrate one or two ranks of warband.  They may only interpenetrate forward; they may not retire or recoil through any elements.  If the chariots are in a group, they may all interpenetrate at the cost of a single pip.

  • The Galatians are also given some extra warband to help play balance.  Accordingly they lose after 1/3 losses or five elements dead.


    There are no special rules for the devastation and terror the elephants seemed to have engendered amongst the Celts.  I think that is adequately modelled in DBA by the elephant quick kill result on warbands.  I toyed with adding a rule for the scythed chariots recoiling and carving their way through their own army, but ultimately decided against it.

    However, if it appeals to you and your opponent, feel free to use my Berserk Elephant variant rule.  Simply substitute "scythed chariot" for the word "elephant".  (Except that scythed chariots still cannot recoil).  It's a trifle cumbersome and unduly tactical I must admit, but can provide some entertainment for at least one player!


    M. M. Austin, The Hellenistic World, Cambridge University Press.
    Bezalel Bar-Kochva, The Seleucid Army, Cambridge University Press.
    M. Cary, A History of the Greek World, Methuen & Co.
    Peter Beresford EllisThe Celtic Empire, Constable.
    Duncan Head, Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars, WRG Publications.
    Jim Webster, "The Elephant Victory", Miniature Wargames #170.


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